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Tech Terms: What is ICT?

How it's crucial to modern business success.

Information and communications technology (ICT) has been a fast-growing topic that is far-reaching and covers multiple IT topics. It's hard to wrap your head around at first, but think of it as the over-arching enabler of all the communications and technology your business uses, from back-end systems through to the end users and customers.

Generally, ICT can include any communication device or application along with the telecommunications necessary for enterprise software, middleware, storage and audio-visual systems to allow people to access, store, transmit and manipulate information. That's all-encompassing, no doubt!

Why is this important for you business? As technology expands, your employees, customers and vendors will be connecting in many different ways every day. Think of how many options are out there to connect, and you'll be overwhelmed. But the more efficient everyone is at making these connections and showing results, the more profitable your company will be.

ICT enables everyone to stay connected even if they're on-the-go. They can view each other's device screens while also on a video call. They can collaborate together on large files at the same time to improve project workflows. And they can do this with the assurance of using the most up-to-date service while knowing that company data is secure and protected.

Let's take a look at some of the terminology of ICT and related terms you may encounter.

Accessibility

Accessibility is critical for users with disabilities, and products can increase people's accessibility to communications services. These include products geared towards assisting people with varied abilities of speech, vision, hearing, cognitive, physical and motor skills. Accessibility solutions are evolving on modern devices, including braille on your phone

Bandwidth

This is the speed that data and information can travel through a 'pipe' such as an Internet wire or cable. The bigger the pipe, the more data that can run through it. Bandwidth is measured in bits per second, referred to as BPS.

Broadband

Broadband is a way to describe high-speed Internet. With these higher speeds, you also have 'always on' capabilities, meaning that you don't have to reconnect every time you want to use the service. With broadband, you have the ability to perform basic tasks like sending emails and surfing the Internet, plus ones that require higher data transfers like video chats, streaming movies and making phone calls over the Internet. 

Collaboration

You've likely heard a lot about collaboration lately, and it's fairly simple in its basic meaning. Collaboration is when multiple people can work together on similar tasks to accomplish an end goal. So if a team can work together on completing a project, they're collaborating. This becomes advantageous in real applications, such as working on the same digital document online, making changes and adjustments all within the same file. 

Collaboration is a common term used with Unified Communications (UC) and you can learn more about ways to keep your teams connected here.

Colocation

Colocation is a way to outsource some of your data storage and security infrastructure and services to a reliable third party. A business can house their servers and devices at a data centre that is already set up with expert staff and facilities that can offer security, monitoring and greater bandwidth.

Cloud Storage

Despite the name, cloud storage does not mean your information is floating in the sky. It is held at data centres in secure facilities all over the world. People and organizations buy or lease storage capacity from the providers. Data is stored online by a third party which should be secure and accessible from anywhere there is an Internet connection.

Data Centre

A data centre is a large group of networked computer servers and data storage systems. They are typically used for remote storage, processing or distribution of large amounts of data. Many data centres are owned by ISPs (Internet service providers) or information and communications technology (ICT) providers, such as MTS.

Data Security

Commonly interchanged with information security (IS), this refers to keeping your digital business data, databases and websites safe. Data security prevents people who aren't authorized to access your computers, devices and servers from getting in and manipulating, stealing or deleting your data.

IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a form of cloud computing that provides virtualized computing resources over the Internet. Organizations outsource the equipment and resources required to support operations, including storage, hardware, servers and networking components. The service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running and maintaining it. This model is typically a monthly operational cost. Benefits of IaaS are:

• Flexibility and scalability: extra resources can be accessed when required

• Cost-effectiveness: while being available when needed, clients only pay for what they are using at a particular time

• Ease of set-up: Cloud servers do not require much initial setup

• Reliability: due to the number of available servers, if there are problems then resources will be shifted so that clients are unaffected.

IoT: Internet of Things

The Internet of things refers to the network of physical objects that feature an IP address, allowing them to be connected to the Internet and the communications between them. This includes traditional computing devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, as well as an increasing number of Internet-enabled devices including home appliances, wearable electronics and more.

ISP: Internet Service Provider

Refers to a company that provides Internet services, including personal and business access to the Internet.

Managed Services

This is a general term to describe the outsourcing of IT services to a trusted service provider. These providers will proactively manage those services, which may include monitoring your systems, security challenges, network maintenance, cloud computing, unified communications services and a lot more. 

Network

This is a group of two or more computer systems linked together. Similar to a group of individuals with common interests, a network is formed to provide helpful information to all parties.

Offsite backup and recovery

The primary purpose of a "backup" is to recover data after its loss, be it by data deletion or corruption. Data loss can be a common experience of servers and computers. The secondary purpose of backups is to recover data from an earlier time, according to a user-defined data retention policy, typically configured within a backup application for how long copies of data are required. Though backups popularly represent a simple form of disaster recovery, and should be part of a disaster recovery plan, backups should not alone be considered disaster recovery.

SaaS: Software as a Service

Pronounced "sass", this is a software delivery method that can be installed over the Internet rather than on a computer, which provides access to software. It's basically an online app that you can access from your computers, but you don't necessarily need to have it installed on your physical devices.

Unified Communications

Unified Communications (UC) is a buzzword describing the integration of an extensive list of real-time, enterprise, communication services. These can including services such as instant messaging (chat), presence information, voice (including IP telephony), mobility features, audio, web & video conferencing, fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), desktop sharing, data sharing, call control and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax). UC is not necessarily a single product, but a set of products that provides a consistent unified user-interface and user-experience across multiple devices and media.

Video conferencing

This is essentially a phone call, but done over video. Two or more parties will have a digital call using both audio and video to communicate.

Virtual VPN/Virtual Networking

Virtual networking is a technology that facilitates the control of one or more remotely located computers or servers over the Internet. Data can be stored and retrieved, software can be run and peripherals can be operated through a web browser as if the hardware was onsite. The service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running and maintaining it.

VoIP

VoIP is an acronym for "Voice over Internet Protocol" and it means making a phone call over the Internet. Instead of using traditional phone lines, your voice is turned into a digital signal sent over the Internet to the other end. To do this, you need a reliable connection with higher bandwidth, which is luckily much more common today.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is short for “wireless fidelity,” which allows you to connect your devices to the Internet without using any wires. At home or work, a Wi-Fi router allows you to surf the net on your laptop, tablet or smartphone without having to use a wire/cord, which is known as a fixed connection. On the road, a Wi-Fi hotspot provides local area connectivity so you can still keep in touch. 

Wireless

One of the most common practical wireless applications is the cell phone, but there are so many wireless devices used today. These are devices that make use of radio signals and microwaves that don't require wires or cables to connect. For more terms related to wireless, check out our Wireless Glossary.

Looking for more Tech Terms? Check out more terminology and Test Your Online Business IQ.

Mark Glucki

Mark has been developing digital blog communities for 10+ years that connect business and tech pros with their inspirational stories. He developed a North American best practice for creating positive experiences on social media networks and spends as much time learning about entrepreneur success stories as he does producing content for others to enjoy. Mark is also a commercial photographer focusing on product and location images. His work can be seen at Wonderlab Photo.

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